[Treoblogging] Ever in hot pursuit of that ever-elusive global stardom, we were coming back over the Rockies to finish up our rag-tag, van & trailer Winter Tour. The weather waxed uncommonly foul, with winds upwards of 40-60 mph, lifting freshly-fallen snow into a virtual curtain of white. The road looked free of ice, but I kept our speed down around 35-40 mph , and trucks and cars continued to pass us.
Despite my seemingly conservative pace, sure enough all of a sudden it was as if the vehicle was aloft on a cushion of air, and we started a mostly uncontrolled drift (counterintuitively) into the wind. I couldn't do much more than let the van slow and avoid overcorrecting.
By and by, the van came to a near rest, its remaining motion being the counterclockwise rotation as the trailer dissipated its momentum jack-knifing around on our right side. We stopped, turned 180 degrees around, facing the traffic oncoming in our lane.
Gingerly, I pulled off the center divider, ueyed, then pulled off onto the right shoulder as quickly as possible (to spare approaching semis the need to make split-second adjustments to there navigational plan).
As it happened, I knew there were no other vehicles in our immediate area, so the incident was in no wise life-threatening. Still, minutes earlier or later and we could've been t-boned by a speeding 18-wheeler, or plummeted down an embankment, or broadsided a rocky outcrop, or... This knowledge of course left us all feeling very alive.
And (somehow, suddenly) very skeptical of Winter touring.
[Treoblogging] The tour's not over yet, but I'm pretty sure "Curly" (our bass player's Meta-nym) just uttered the winner (in a cellphone conversation with an old friend): "But aren't you afraid [your kids] are gonna grow up fat like the rest of your family?"
[Treoblogging] Leon Wieseltier reviews Dan Dennett's Breaking the Spell at the NYT, here.
Well, sort of reviews. I can't tell if it's an actual review because Wieseltier seems to hold reality in such low esteem. Sentence three (I think) of the review, for instance, contains the remarkable assertion that "scientism" is "one of the dominant superstitions" in our culture. Um, I doubt scientism is a prevalent belief among scientists--much less being a "dominant" creed in the culture at large, which (as any nonidiot is aware) is overwhelmingly theistic, and has been since, oh, the dawn of man.
Of course, the "superstition" epithet is little more than know-nothing opinion splooging. Wieseltier doesn't so much as even gesture to argument addressing the merits of scientism as an epistemology--which is only the crux of his entire feckless rant. Pathetic.
UPDATE: Brian Leiter pretty ably Fisks Wieseltier's review here.
The Enchantress and I were disscussing infidelity this morning. She had just found out that a male friend of hers whom she otherwise greatly admired had recently stepped out on his wife (who is also a friend). Because I am a musician and on the road away from home most of the year, our talk inevitably turned toward my own behavior in this, er, area. And so it was that the Enchantress joshingly tried to explain to me why it would be pointless for me to try to shag random hotties while out on the road.
"If girls who go to your shows really knew you (like I do), they'd be the first ones to run away."
"But honey," I countered, "if everyone really knew their potential mates, no one would ever hook up."
Which is true (tout comprendre, c'est tout mépriser), and, I figure, a good reason not to shag random hotties.
MIT's Mark Halpern has an article up at the New Atlantis on the Turing Test. It's quite interesting.
Many AI opponents presuppose that to do bona fide thinking, the "thinking" entity has to be aware that it is thinking. But that metaphysic is something Turing seems quite explicitly to want to abstract away. (As should be clear from the structure of his test, Turing was concerned with the operational aspects of thinking.)
As such, it's at least arguable that while AI is nowhere near realizing human forms of thought in computation, modern computation nonetheless may be realizing some form of thought. And whether such thought is a conscious form of thought should be (but seemingly rarely is) approached as a completely different question.
[Treoblogging] Anyone who thinks that being "like" an organism (which probably even the careless reader will notice is a simile rather than an identity) is the same thing as literally being an organism would have to be an idiot.